Perfectionism (n) refusal to accept any standard short of perfection
It was a fairly normal, sunny day in Durban when I decided to buy some juice from my local tuck shop. After the purchase I received my change, of course, though I spent a good few minutes arranging my money ‘properly’. As many would know, all South African notes now have Nelson Mandela’s head printed on them. So my intention was to have all of Mandela’s heads facing the same way in my purse.
I honestly did not see anything wrong with this, even after I received a few ‘weird girl’ looks from some spectators. As a matter of fact over the years I have grown used to being seen as a ‘weird girl’ because of my fairly awkward customs. It was not until a very close friend of mine made me realise just how this aspect of me has had a negative impact on my expectations from individuals I regularly encounter, more especially my family and friends.
Some have referred to perfectionism as a disease, including the author of the article I have extracted some information from. I personally agree with this statement, because perfectionism has successfully stripped the happiness we get to experience in life for me a couple of times. I won’t deny that it has made me a very productive and efficient worker yet throughout this year I have had to teach myself to, one step at a time, drop these perfectionist tendencies. Basically because I haven’t been able to produce work to my desired level of perfection because I am still healing from the injuries I suffer from the accident I was involved in early last year, you can read all about that in the Unfortunate Truth.
Here are some pointers I got from here on perfectionism that I believe we should be made aware of:
- Perfectionism creates a steady state of discontent fueled by a stream of negative emotions like fear, frustration, and disappointment.
- When you are a perfectionist, you can’t enjoy even your successes—there is always something you could have done better.
- Because failure is not an option for perfectionists, fear of failure becomes a driving force. All that fear diverts energy from more constructive things, making perfectionists less able to learn and be creative. Perfectionists expend a lot of energy on the things they are desperately trying to avoid: failure and the criticism they imagine it will create. Ironically, this preoccupation has been shown to undermine performance in sports, in academics, and in social situations.
- Perfectionism—like all fixed-mindset thinking—keeps kids from taking risks and embracing challenge. Rising to a challenge is one of the best ways to go from being good at something to being great.
- Perfectionism leads kids to conceal their mistakes and avoid getting constructive feedback. In nearly every field—writing groups are the most obvious example here—group critique is a rapid way to get better at something.
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